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Southern Europe backs Cyprus against Turkey on 'illegal' gas drilling

Greece is backing Cyprus on the issue [Getty]

Date of publication: 15 June, 2019

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Southern European states have backed Cyprus following recent disagreements with Turkey.
Southern European countries backed Cyprus in its disagreement with Turkey on "illegal" gas drilling in its waters, and urged the EU to respond to Ankara if it continues.

Cyprus has has exclusive economic rights to the waters where Turkey is reportedly preparing to drill for gas, the leaders of southern EU states said Friday in a joint declaration issued at the end of their meeting in the Maltese capital.

Among those who signed the statements were the leaders of France, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Spain and Malta.

They gave Cyprus its full backing for maintaining its sovereign rights to exploit its national resources and condemned Turkey's actions in the area.

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades thanked the southern European leaders for their "firm support."

A Turkish drill ship has been anchored 41 miles off Cyprus' western coast for several weeks, but it is unclear if it has started drilling.

Turkey says it is defending its rights and those of breakaway Turkish Cypriots to the area's energy reserves.

Cyprus argues that Turkey is acting in blatant disregard of international law.

The Cypriot government has quietly issued international arrest warrants for the ship's crew and officials from foreign companies assisting in the drilling.

A government official of the Cyprus government told AP that arrest warrants in the "double digits" had been prepred to target officials "in decision-making positions".

Turkey warned this week that it would give the "necessary response" to Cyprus over the arrest warrants.

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